'Warlock' is a familiar story, but it moves along and develops a comic edge


"Warlock" has its good and bad points. Among the first are the stars and the film's sense of humor. Among the second is the gore, which should come as no surprise because the director of the new movie is Steve Miner, who made two of the "Friday the 13th" films.

Fortunately, Miner concentrates most of the horror in the first 20 minutes of the film. Fortunately, once the slice-and-dice ends, the film moves along at a fast clip, developing a hard comic edge as it does. Unfortunately for all, the gore is more funny than it is repugnant. This is called desensitization. The "Warlock" plot is a very familiar one. It was used in the 1979 "Time After Time," was the basis for Arnold Schwarzenegger's "Terminator," and more recently was used in "I Come in Peace" and "Predator 2."

It's the old one about the fiendish space or time traveler who is looking for trouble and the good guy who is pursuing him.

In this case, it is a representative of the devil, a man who transports himself from 1691 Salem, Mass., to 1991 Los Angeles. On his trail is a Salem witch hunter who wears outlandish clothing that no one is going to notice, certainly not in Los Angeles. The witch is looking for the book that will allow him to undo creation. The witch hunter hopes to prevent him from doing so.

Caught between these two combatants is a waitress, played with amusing airiness by Lori Singer, who, as a hapless, witless earthling, is mauled by the satanic visitor. Even so, she does better than her male roommate who loses a finger then his tongue to the witch. The devil's disciple bites off the victim's tongue then spits it into a sizzling frying pan. Well, when you've graduated from the "Friday the 13th" movies, you take something along with you.

Perhaps the worst of the film is unseen. We see the man from hell talking to a little boy on a playground, then we learn that the visitor has killed the boy and drunk his fat. Yes. Believe it. It's there, on the big screen. It's the sort of thing that enriches our daily existence.

Julian Sands is the devilish time traveler, and Richard E. Grant is his pursuer. We get a few laughs from Grant, who, as the 17th century New Englander, uses archaic terminology and is appalled at some of the things he sees, airplanes, for instance.

"Warlock" is showing at local houses. If you do see the film, forget your sense of logic.


"Warlock" ** A male witch transports himself from 17th century Salem to contemporary Los Angeles where he is pursued by a 17th century witch hunter.

CAST: Julian Sands, Lori Singer, Richard E. Grant

DIRECTOR: Steve Miner

RATING: R (violence, language)

RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes

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